Caroline Myss, one of my teachers, presented how to get ready for better New Year. Let us use her model of asking seven questions to gain clarity and create your personal intention for the Year of 2021.
Like a self-styled, spontaneous retreat, we pursued these questions in a spontaneous manner but they resulted in reshaping how we thought about the way we would travel through the New Year. Perhaps they will do the same for you.
Question One: What do you hope for this coming year that is different from other years?
This was a very thought-provoking question as it required that we consider first of all if we were harboring something deep within us that we were “hoping” for, either consciously or unconsciously. Were we hoping for a change in our lifestyle or for a new relationship, or in one case, for a divorce to finally happen? Before we even opened up that discussion, however, we talked about the nature of hope itself. What is hope and what does it mean to invest hope into something or to decide that something is hopeless? Does it matter, for example, to hold in your heart or mind the value decision that a situation in your life is hopeless?
Question Two: How do you want to improve your life this year?
Improvements in our lives do not happen on their own. It’s a funny thing about us humans but we frame the dynamics of life in such a way as to imagine that change in whatever form somehow gets delivered to our door. That is, we don’t realize how much we have to be the initiators in the positive changes we want to see come into our lives.
Question Three: What do you want to contribute to your community to make it a better place?
It’s been my experience that not many people think about their place within their community. Parents may get involved in the schools their kids go to, but schools are only a part of one’s community. Community is made up of the people in your neighborhood, schools, churches, local businesses, and the well-being of your neighborhood in general. I had an eye-opening experience when I purchased my home around eight years ago. Prior to that time, I lived in a small townhouse for seven years in the same neighborhood. I only met one neighbor the entire time I lived in a townhouse. Within two weeks of buying my present home, I received a letter from a soon-to-be neighbor welcoming me to the neighborhood and inviting me to be part of a circle of history buffs. I was stunned at the warmth of the letter but also that this person knew I adored history.
Question Four: How do you want to be different by the end of the year?
This is a rich question and again one that requires reflection. This is not a question that you should reply to without serious thought because you really are setting an inner course for yourself. Think about this: How DO you want to be other than the way you are now? Do you want to release an addiction? Or do you want to have finally settled a conflict with someone? Or do you want to have finally learned something about astronomy by signing up for lectures at the Planetarium? Or do you want to challenge how you think about the Middle East by learning more about that part of the world?
Question Five: Whose life do you want to improve and how will you do that?
This is a fascinating question and it was one that took more time than some of these other questions because the answer involved another person. You have to think about someone other than yourself in a way that says, “I am consciously choosing to help this person.” As many of you know, stepping into the life of another person has to be done carefully and with great wisdom. It is not wise to blast into someone’s life, offer to take charge of their problems, and then vanish. It’s not wise to offer to do more than you can do.
Question Six: What changes are unfolding in your life that you need to cooperate with and what does that mean?
Again, this is a very personal question for you to reflect upon. If you say that nothing is changing in your life, then you are not evaluating your life clearly or deeply enough as change is always unfolding. We are always moving through cycles of death and rebirth, crucifixions and resurrections, endings and wondrous new beginnings. From the release of plans and paths you were meant to look down but never to walk, to arriving at the beginning of an enchanting idea that has your name written all over it, your life continues each day to present you with variations of all of these archetypal themes.
Question Seven: In what way or ways do you want to deepen your spiritual life?
Here, again, you are left to yourself to answer this question. But I will leave you with this insight: A spiritual life is not – repeat not – a mental, intellectual experience. It is a prayerful, contemplative, mystical, reflective journey that, in fact, draws you out of your mental world. Your mind is the last place you want to be as you contemplate the nature of what is real in your life and what is of value. What good is your mind when it comes to those questions? You’ve programmed your mind to tell you what you want it to tell you. Your mind is filled with the values you put inside of it. What can your mind possibility understand about the mystical realm? Nothing –
Then ask yourself, “What is of value to me? Do I really pray? Am I comfortable in my spiritual skin? What do I know about God?”
Enjoy your inner process and PF’ 2021!